Green’s Dictionary of Slang

tea n.

[reflecting the colour of tea without milk]

1. [late 17C–18C] strong liquor; often as cold tea under cold adj., brandy.

2. [18C–early 19C; 1970s+] urine [1970s+ use is gay].

3. [late 19C+] (US) whisky.

4. in drug uses [the OED citation from the Boston Sunday Herald (26 March 1967), ‘Marijuana…when brewed with hot water’ is prob. a teasing hippie n.2 (3) gulling a foolish journalist].

(a) [1930s+] marijuana.

(b) [1930s+] a marijuana cigarette.

(c) [1970s+] phencyclidine.

In compounds

tea-canister (n.)

[mid-19C] a brandy flask.

tea-head (n.) [-head sfx (4)]

[1940s+] (drugs) a marijuana smoker; also attrib.

tea-hound (n.) [-hound sfx]

1. [1930s+] (orig. US black) a marijuana smoker; also attrib.

2. see also SE compounds below.

tea-joint (n.) [sense 3a above + joint n. (3b)]

[1940s] (US) a place, e.g. a bar or club, where marijuana can be smoked.

tea man (n.) (also T-man)

[1930s–50s] (US) a smoker of marijuana.

tea pad (n.) [pad n.2 (2)]

[1930s–60s] (drugs) a place for smoking marijuana.

tea party (n.)

1. [1920s] a drinking binge.

2. [1930s–60s] (drugs) a gathering of people for the purpose of communal smoking of marijuana.

tea stick (n.) (also stick) [stick n. (6)]

[1930s–50s] (US drugs) a marijuana cigarette.

tea-timers (n.) [the need to wear sunglasses to hide one’s marijuana-affected pupils]

[1970s+] (US gay) dark glasses.

In phrases

read the tea leaves (v.)

[1970s] (drugs) to smoke marijuana.

tea up (v.) [SE tea/sense 3 above]

[1910s–20s] to get drunk.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

tea fight (n.)

1. [mid-19C] an evening party.

2. [mid-19C–1920s] a tea party.

tea fighter (n.)

[late 19C] (Aus.) one who attends a tea party (and by implication dislikes alcohol).

tea-hound (n.) (also tea-guzzler) [1910s-20s] (US)

1. a man who frequents tea parties.

2. a womanizer.

3. see also sl. compounds above.

teapot (n.)

see separate entry.

teashop (n.)

[1930s] (US gay) an all-woman bar catering to lesbians.

teaspoon (n.)

see separate entry.

tea squall (n.)

[early–mid-19C] (US) a tea party.

tea-towel holder (n.) [the small round plastic holder that a teatowel is pushed into resembles the anus]

[1990s+] the anus.

tea voider (n.)

[late 18C–early 19C] a chamberpot.

In phrases

give them away with a pound of tea (also give them away with a pound of tripe) [late 19C+]

1. a phr. used to deride something, or someone, considered of little or no value, e.g. ‘Expensive? He gives them away…’.

2. an ironic reply by a criminal to questions referring to the origins of obviously stolen goods in his possession,e.g. ‘Stolen goods, officer? No. Give them away…’.

go for one’s tea (v.)

[20C+] to die.

have a cup of tea (v.)

[1970s+] (US gay) to have sex in a public lavatory.

not for all the tea in China (also not for all the rice in China, ...meat in China, not for King Dick, ...mink, ...monkey nuts, ...a tinker’s)

[late 19C+] (orig. Aus.) on no account, no chance whatsoever; occas. in positive use.

take tea with (v.) [orig. colonial phr. take tea with, to associate with, esp. when the relations are mainly hostile]

1. [late 19C+] (Aus.) to consort with someone, to associate with someone.

2. [1970s+] (UK Und.) to outsmart a clever person or to defeat someone in authority.

tea and tattle (party) (n.)

[1920s+] (Aus.) a formal afternoon tea for a number of guests, a minor social get-together.

tea and turn out

[19C] a phr. used to indicate that there is no tea; i.e. one is simply SE turned out.

wet the tea leaves (v.) (also wet the tea)

[mid-19C+] to make tea.

In exclamations


[1940s+] (N.Z.) a call to indicate that it is time for a tea-break; thus as n.